Is Marfa Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On May 22, 2024
Marfa, United States
Safety Index:
80
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Marfa, Texas, is filled with the unexpected and the unconventional.

It’s even more surprising to find such a colorful town on the brown facade of the expansive West Texas desert.

This small town has earned a reputation far beyond its size, with recognition from the New York Times and National Geographic.

What sets Marfa apart is its remarkable blend of art, culture, and mystique, making it a destination unlike any other.

At the heart of Marfa’s allure is its thriving art scene, anchored by institutions like the Chinati Foundation.

Here, minimalist masterpieces dot the landscape, seamlessly integrated into the desert terrain.

Visitors are invited to contemplate the interplay between art and environment, a dialogue that continues to captivate audiences from around the world.

(Check the calendar to visit during one of the many art shows each year.)

Yet, Marfa’s appeal extends beyond the realm of art.

Its enigmatic allure is perhaps best exemplified by the infamous Marfa Lights, a phenomenon that has baffled scientists and sparked countless theories.

Each night, curious spectators gather at the designated viewing area, hoping to catch a glimpse of these mysterious orbs dancing on the horizon.

The Marfa lights are just part of the night sky story here.

It’s part of a massive Dark Sky Reserve, with some of the clearest and darkest night skies in the country.

Moreover, Marfa’s small-town charm belies its cosmopolitan character.

Here, you’ll find an eclectic mix of boutiques, galleries, and eateries, each offering a distinctive glimpse into the town’s creative spirit.

If Marfa isn’t your vibe, check out our article about Marathon, Texas.

It proudly proclaims itself to be very “UnMarfa.”

Warnings & Dangers in Marfa

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

There's a low risk in Marfa and enough cute and quirky things to do that you won't get bored. Plus, half the show is after dark in this Dark Sky Reserve.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

Marfa doesn't have public transportation, but you can get as close as Alpine by Amtrak. I think it's fantastic that the Marfa tourism site lists the first names of people who provide rideshares - such a small-town thing to do - but taxis and popular rideshares are available, too. Having your own car is the best option. You can get a rental car in El Paso.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

This is a low risk, with just one pickpocket reported in the past five years. Don't let your guard down, but there are bigger things to worry about in Marfa than theft.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW

One of those things is the weather. From summer monsoons that build quickly and pack a punch to wildfires inching toward the city, there are plenty of reasons to stay informed about the weather. Don't let the desert landscape fool you, either - nights can get near freezing in the winter.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

Marfa police haven't had a robbery report in at least the past decade. The risk is low. Keep it that way by using extra caution after dark, especially if you're stargazing alone.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

There's less of a risk of international terrorism than illegal people crossing from Mexico into the U.S. Reports of people stuffed in vans and drugs found in gas tanks fill the headlines. The Mexican cartel operates many of these illegal runs, and you want to stay as far away from that as possible.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

Check local law enforcement social media sites for the latest scams. The local Better Business Bureau office and the state Attorney General’s office will have common scam tactics and protection advice.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

Women have the same low risk but can't afford to let their guard down. It's especially important to avoid hiking alone, and you should always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The U.S. has strict standards for tap water per the Safe Water Drinking Act. Communities are required to provide a Water Quality Report (Consumer Confidence Report) once a year by July 1. Marfa doesn't have the water quality report posted online, but you can call (432) 729-4315 to get a copy of the latest version.

Safest Places to Visit in Marfa

VisitMarfa.com is the official tourism site for the city.

It does include things to do in Marfa and across the Big Bend region.

We also have a collection of those cities on our website.

Dive into contemporary art at this renowned museum founded by artist Donald Judd, who left the Big Apple for small-town Marfa.

His minimalist installations are set against the backdrop of the West Texas landscape.

The museum of the Chinati Foundation hosts artwork inside and throughout the surrounding natural area.

Self-guided and guided tours are available.

This sparked an art movement in Marfa, and you can find all the art locations through MarfaGalleryGuide.com.

One of the most popular is the Marfa Ballroom, showcasing contemporary art.

While you’re on an art walk, check out the Marfa Historic District downtown, with a creative mix of restaurants and shops.

Plus, don’t miss the El Paisano Hotel, where stars like Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean stayed while filming the movie Giant in the 1950s.

Marfa offers e-bikes to rent, a unique way to explore the landscape while soaking in the fresh desert air.

If you want to go higher, consider a glider plane ride thousands of feet above West Texas.

Witness the mysterious phenomenon of the Marfa Lights.

Set up your camera or simply gaze at the horizon as you ponder the origin of these unexplained glowing orbs.

Perhaps you’ll be the one to figure out the strange lights dancing on the horizon of an empty, inhospitable desert.

Explore the eclectic shops along Highland Avenue.

From boutique clothing stores to art galleries, you’ll find unique souvenirs and one-of-a-kind treasures.

Delve into the history of Marfa and the surrounding area at this museum, which features exhibits on local ranching, military history, and the region’s diverse cultural heritage.

Places to Avoid in Marfa

You don’t need to worry about dangerous neighborhoods in Marfa.

It’s too small, and the town is too safe.

With the problems of illegal drugs, guns, and human trafficking, you should never stop to help someone on the side of the road or pick up hitchhikers.

If you see a group of people hiding in the desert, report it to the police.

Avoid stargazing without preparing ahead of time.

It’s common courtesy to bring a red flashlight instead of a white one so that you don’t create light pollution for others around you.

Don’t blare music while you’re stargazing where other people can hear you.

Leave no trace and take all your trash with you.

It’s best to stargaze during a new moon so that the brightness of the moon won’t hide the stars and planets from view.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Marfa

  1. Marfa has a police department, and you can follow them on Facebook @MarfaPD. Call (432) 729-1841 to ask specific safety questions if you’d like.
  2. Use the IPAWS system to sign up for emergency alerts. Issues like severe weather, flooding, road closures, or public safety threats will come through your mobile device. You’ll also want a weather radio if you’re heading outside the mobile service range.
  3. If you’re traveling to Marfa from El Paso, fill up your gas tank while you’re there. There aren’t a lot of stops along the way. At one point, there’s a stretch of almost 130 miles without a gas station.
  4. Marfa is in the Central Time Zone, but the Mountain Time Zone is just one county west. Only El Past, Hudspeth, and part of Culberson Counties are in the Mountain Time Zone. Marfa is in Presidio County. This can lead to your phone and car displaying the wrong time at different locations in West Texas. Mountain Time is one hour behind Central Time.
  5. If you’re considering going to Mexico during your visit, please read the U.S. State Department Travel Warnings for Chihuahua. Due to an ongoing issue with violent crime, kidnappings, and cartel activities, travel is generally not recommended anywhere in Mexico, but some areas are more dangerous than others.
  6. A railroad line goes right through Marfa, and despite the crossing arms, lights, and noise made when a train is approaching, several people have been injured or killed in the past few years by an approaching train. Never drive around the railroad crossing arms, trying to “beat the train.” Trains are always going faster than you perceive. Don’t stop on the tracks in traffic.
  7. Use Inciweb’s website to check for wildfire activity nearby or smoke that will lift into the Marfa area. Wildfires here can be started by something as simple as dry lightning, and winds can carry embers miles away.
  8. The air here is really dry, and that can lead to nosebleeds or chapped skin. Bring a hydrating moisturizer and use a lubricant like Vaseline in your nose to keep the blood vessels from breaking.
  9. Bears live in the Big Bend region, and you should keep at least 25 yards between you and them at all times. Don’t feed bears or bait them. It’s especially important to leave the cubs alone because where there are cubs, there’s a possessive momma bear around.
  10. Scorpions live in this desert, but you rarely have to rush to the hospital after a sting. The only exception is if it’s an Arizona bark scorpion, or you have an allergic reaction. You can avoid scorpions by shaking out your shoes before putting them on and using a blacklight to see them in the dark.

So... How Safe Is Marfa Really?

Marfa has a low risk, and that’s before you consider the thousands of people who visit each year.

Seven violent crimes were reported, of which five were assaults (only one was aggravated assault) and two were sex offenses.

For property crimes, two were thefts and two were vandalism.

The biggest category was drug and narcotic offenses, which totaled 14.

Then, there were two more weapons violations.

The biggest safety concern here comes from the border and the people who cross it into the U.S.

Some are searching for a safe place to live, while others are bringing drugs and illegal weapons into the country.

Marfa police is one agency near the border dealing with a surge of migrants and always looking for the newest creative way illegal activity is hoping to sneak past their watchful eyes.

If you haven’t spent time in a desert, you should also research the safety challenges that come with low humidity and extreme heat.

Dehydration can quickly set in, and even second-degree sunburns can ruin an otherwise great vacation.

Common sense and minding your own business go a long way in Marfa.

How Does Marfa Compare?

CitySafety Index
Marfa80
New Orleans57
Baltimore56
Boston67
Washington DC56
New York City67
Detroit56
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60
Vancouver (Canada)82
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Toronto (Canada)81

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

All international visitors need either a visa or a visa waiver. Start the process using the Visa Wizard module on the U.S. State Department website. While you're there, check out the rules and requirements if you plan to go to Mexico during your visit. Also, keep in mind that your passport must be valid for at least six months after our trip, or you’ll need to apply for a new one.

Currency

Currency

Only the U.S. Dollar (USD) is accepted in the United States. International airports usually have a currency exchange desk on site, while regional airports won’t. Your home bank offers the lowest fees. For those using credit cards, check to see if there’s a foreign transaction fee before you start racking up charges. Don't wait until you get to Marfa to get cash.

Weather

Weather

Marfa has a desert climate, with mild winter days but chilly nights. Summer peaks with highs averaging 90°F, but expect triple digits. Lows in the summer get into the 60s. You need strong sunscreen for the intense rays here. Bring a hat and comfortable shoes, plus clothing with UV protection is ideal.

Airports

Airports

El Paso International Airport is three hours away by car. That's the largest airport. Midland International Airport and Space Port are the same distance, but not quite as large. Call ahead to ask about currency services, as the El Paso website only shows ATMs at the airport. Midland's airport doesn't specify one way or the other.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance goes into effect as soon as you purchase it. Comprehensive insurance offers the best protection and peace of mind.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Marfa Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 7° C
Feb 8° C
Mar 12° C
Apr 16° C
May 20° C
Jun 24° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 23° C
Sep 21° C
Oct 16° C
Nov 11° C
Dec 7° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
161822263033323129252016
Low
°C
-3-215101416151271-3
High
°F
616472798691908884776861
Low
°F
272834415057615954453427

Texas - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Abilene67
Amarillo65
Austin65
Carrollton72
Corpus Christi71
Dallas64
Del Rio68
Dell City81
El Paso77
Fort Davis80
Fort Worth77
Fredericksburg85
Garland83
Granbury74
Gruene82
Houston59
Irving79
Laredo68
Llano83
Lubbock38
Luckenbach77
Marathon78
Marfa80
Nacogdoches78
New Braunfels83
Plano86
Port Aransas83
San Antonio53
Schulenburg83
Sherman73
Smithville84
South Padre Island70
Tyler70
Waco61
Wichita Falls68
Wimberley81

Where to Next?

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